It’s finally here – the Apple iPad. It’s what everyone is talking about, but what can the latest device from the Apple stable bring to your life that other Tablet PCs can’t. Already many reviewers are saying it’s not all what’s cracked up to be. In fact, commentators on Twitter have gone as far as calling it the iTampon.
Let’s start by giving it the benefit of the doubt and take a look at what it does have going for it.
The screen – 9.7 inches of multi-touch goodness, incorporating 1024×768 HD resolution and LED backlighting. All in all, fairly gorgeous. The iPad adds real depth to what’s being displayed in rich, warm colours and makes just about everything a pleasure to view and read.
Speed – Wow! This machine is a real speed freak – much faster than the iPhone 3GS. Applications and web browsers start instantly and remain highly responsive throughout. This is all down to Apple’s A4 chip which runs at an estimated 1Ghz, as much as a fifth faster than the iPhone 3GS processor.
iBooks – The iPad is one device that could revolutionise the e-publishing industry. Showcasing the iPad’s natural ability as an e-Reader, iBooks is a beautifully laid-out application with a really stylish interface. Simply choose what you want to read from the iBooks store and it instantly appears on your bookshelf.
Unfortunately, apart from the obvious aesthetic qualities, there was little else we could find to differentiate the Apple iPad from a good Netbook or a state-of-the-art Smartphone. On the contrary, there seemed to be a few glaring disadvantages.
Multi-tasking – Put simply, it can’t. Honestly, for a state-of-the-art computing device in 2010, that’s a bit of a let-down. Can you imagine having to switch off your music player to send an email on your laptop? Well, that’s pretty much what you have to do on the iPad.
Memory – The iPad ships with file storage in the range from 16GB to 64GB. C’mon, the iPod Touch has that. Where’s the elusive 128GB we’ve all been waiting for? In truth, probably less than a year away on the next generation model.
What do you mean, no camera? It seems that even dishwashers come with a built-in camera these days. It’s a well-known fact that Apple has been having technical issues incorporating a camera into the iPod Touch. Have they had the same issues with the iPad? Or is this another addition we’ll see further down the line, touted as a next generation feature?
Battery – Ten hours of battery life sounds like a winner, but Apple have again made the battery irreplaceable. The more cynical of us might suggest that this incentivises people to use Apple’s costly servicing centre, or simply take the easy route out and upgrade to the next generation model, which, based on past experience, won’t be too long coming. And, do you know what? They’re probably right?
Wi-Fi and 3G – In the United States, Apple has a deal with AT&T to offer a Wi-Fi contract to users. If you don’t want to avail of this, there’s a big price supplement for a 3G enabled iPad. Tut tut! Furthermore, the iPad sees the introduction of the ‘micro SIM’. With few phone companies using this format, AT&T may have found a fairly foolproof way to hold on to their market share for the time being.
Not very Flash – The absence of Flash on the iPad has left some commentators completely bewildered. Apple just don’t do Flash, but, let’s face it, despite having HTML5 in the pipeline, Flash isn’t becoming obsolete anytime soon. In fact, Google is positively developing the format on its Android handsets and, for iPad users, this means living within Apple’s walled garden for the foreseeable future.
And while we’re at it, where’s the GPS? Just about every modern smartphone has GPS built in, so why shouldn’t the iPad. Again, this likely to be another feature that’s been held back for the next generation iPad to help stimulate future sales.
Interfaces – If you’ve downloaded a HD movie you might want to see it on something bigger than your 9.7inch iPad screen, but there’s no HDMI connector, so tough luck! What’s more, just about everything else you would want to connect to your iPad needs an adapter.
Finally, and by no means lastly, the operating system. Unlike a netbook, you’re stuck with whatever OS Apple want you to run, which greatly reduces the amount of applications you can use. This is a bigger issue than it appears at first glance because Apple is locking you into what it wants you to view on the Internet. Only what it approves makes it into the Apple App Store. And, really, is that what the web is all about?
Apple of whose Eye.
Despite the high retail price, the iPad is already selling twice as fast as the iPhone did on its launch. Consumers and technophiles are rushing out in their droves to get their mitts on the first generation of Apple iPads, mostly on the strength of the hype surrounding it and its undeniable good looks. But is this wise? Probably not. First generation machines are always a let-down, full of glitches, bugs and disappointments. In fact, let’s call them what they really are – a ‘work-in-progress’.
No doubt missing features and capabilities will appear in later models and ensure a healthy revenue stream for Apple for many years to come, but, right now, the iPad seems too much like an over-sized, overpriced iPhone.
The Apple iPad has everything it takes to be a great machine; it just needs to grow up a bit first.